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Infusing gamification into your child's education

Gamification is the application of game-design mechanics to areas unrelated to gaming. For instance, it could mean awarding achievement points for doing chores or introducing the concept of levels to other tasks. Gamification has gotten a strong foothold in education, and many in the industry think the concept can really help students learn better. For instance, educator and Forbes contributor Jordan Shapiro regularly covers topics about fusing gamification and education. What's more, you can use the principle to boost your child's learning. Here's how:

Stimulate reward centers
The reason video games can be so enticing is because they use your brain's reward system to keep you coming back. When you beat a game, you feel a sense of accomplishment, powered by dopamine running through your brain. In order to feel that sensation again, your mind will find ways to redo what you did to beat the game or earn that achievement.

You can apply that feel-good cycle to education. Introduce rewards and achievements into your child's learning to help them feel accomplished after completing a task. For instance, when your child finishes homework, they could get a "homework" badge (which could just be a sticker on a board). Or, for bigger accomplishments like acing a test, you might award your child a larger badge. Simply having the ability to earn a reward the way they do when playing games can motivate your child while they learn.

Provide level opportunities 
In games, players can level up their characters. This gives them new skills and better stats, and leveling up is a motivation for many players. It can also be used to engage your child academically. Maybe after gaining enough "experience points" from doing things like finishing homework, your child can level up. This can be a purely arbitrary system, in which they increase levels but don't get anything for it, or one in which leveling up means getting a reward - maybe another TV session whenever they earn enough experience.

Use existing tools
Gamifying your child's education can be hard if you are unfamiliar with game design. Fortunately, developers who have experience in the gaming industry have created tools for educators. From gamified task managers to games that help students learn math, you can find a variety of tools on the Web. 

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